The Accord Coalition has made a submission today in response to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Religious Education’s recent call for evidence concerning the supply of and support for Religious Education (RE) teachers.
Accord’s submission focused on how the current statutory arrangements for RE in schools causes problems for the continuing professional development of teachers. Accord argued that introducing a flexible national framework for RE in all state funded schools in England, and separately also Wales, would reduce problems created for teachers and pupils moving schools, as well as provide a greater focus for those providing RE support and training services.
Accord also observed that in many cases a flexible national RE framework would give schools and teachers a lot more freedom to innovate, to be creative and to adapt to their particular circumstances, as some RE syllabuses produced by local authorities are longer than the National Curriculum itself.
Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said ‘RE is vital part of the school curriculum, which should develop pupil’s analytical tools and human sympathies needed to appreciate and understand different beliefs and values in our diverse society, while also helping pupil’s develop and adhere to their own life-stance.
‘Yet RE is suffering, not just from its exclusion from the Government’s English Baccalaureate performance indicator, but also because of a growing shortage of specialist teachers. In 2011 the number of RE teachers in England with no relevant post-A level qualification in RE was 55%, compared to only 27% of those who taught history for example. Meanwhile, in 2010-11 there were 675 RE teacher training places in England, but for 2013/14 this figure is predicted to reduce to 321.
‘Accord has therefore contributed, to this very important and timely review, our own ideas about how RE can be changed and impediments lifted to help enhance the RE teaching profession, and in so doing, the quality of RE provided in schools’.